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Why that Shot, Doc?

June 19 , 2021
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at )

Too many of us do not have a culture of inquiry. It could be the way we were raised – obedient and a bit subservient – or a tradition of high regard for authority. But whenever a narrative or a view is thrown our way, especially from a person considered to be an expert, we go along with it without question.

How many of us accept things as we are told without further inquiry? How many of us nod our heads and pretend like we have understood an idea, either not to look dumb or because we do not care? How many of us take the time to think twice about the information we come across?

The other day, a family member went to a hospital, and the doctor prescribed her an injection. When she came home later, she could not say why it was necessary. Furthermore, it was not clear what her sickness was, and as she went by herself to the hospital, there was nobody there to ask for her either. When we tried to understand what the doctor said and prescribed her, she was confused and told us multiple stories.

It would have been a wholly different scenario had a friend of mine, known for her inquisitiveness, been there with her. She would have bombarded them with questions. Whenever we are in a conversation, she often asks us why something is the way it is. This is not paranoia but a healthy dose of scepticism, which is not a bad trait to have these days.

It is not only that she asks, but she challenges, even on subjects such as vaccination. Most of us get our children vaccinated without knowing which vaccines are given, why or what is in them. We go to the hospital on the scheduled date and the professionals administer the vaccines.

A combination of misunderstanding and opinion policing, questioning the view of medical experts has become taboo, to the point that it is seen as science denialism. It may also stem from our profound respect and admiration for educated individuals as our society highly values diplomas and degrees.

The views of practitioners and experts should be taken seriously, over and above the views of random people on social media. No matter, the opinions of experts evolve, including medical knowledge. Trying a new therapy drug or vaccination is not like going out and buying the latest iPhone. For instance, the World Health Organisation (WHO) insisted early on during the COVID-19 pandemic that masks are unnecessary for people not already showing symptoms. It was not long after that the medical community's opinion over the issue changed to the point that it was mandatory to wear masks in public in almost every country in the world.

This is not isolated to the medical field. It happens everywhere, from electricians, mechanics, and landscapers, to contractors. The argument that it is not my field, it is theirs, and thus I take their word for it, is half right. Still, inquiring why can at least show us if the person prescribing something genuinely has a reason for the methodology or is trying to swindle us.

There is an old saying that goes like this: “if you can’t explain it as you would to a four-year-old, then you don’t understand it.”

Sure, it may not be my field, and my question may seem silly to a career professional but is it not part of their job to make sure I know why my car clutch needs to be changed when I bought it brand new six months ago?

PUBLISHED ON Jun 19,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1103]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at

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